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Report to the Center for Urban Research and Learning:
Evaluation of Community Empowerment

Susan F. Grossman, Ph.D. Edward J. Gumz, Ph.D.



The Survey and Study Framework

The Sample

Results: Discussion and Conclusion
    Table 1: Census Data for Tracts 1607 (Comparison Community) and 1608 (IPNA Neighborhood)

    Table 2: Sample Characteristics

    Table 3: Involvement in Various Community Organizations

    Table 4: Percent of Respondents Who Say They Would Utilize Selected Problem Solving Approaches At Least Once in Response to Selected Community Problems

    Table 5: Comparison of Respondents Problem Solving Approaches By Problem Severity

    Table 6: Percent of Respondents Who Say They Have Utilized Selected Problem Solving Approaches At Least Once in Response to Selected Community Problems They have a had in the past 6 months

    Table 7: Scores for Total Sample on Selected Scales

    Table 8: Correlational Analysis of Scales

    Table 9: Comparison of the SOCC/IPNA group and Comparison group on Empowerment Measures and Measures of Community Attachment and Organizational Involvement

    Table 10: Comparison of Percent of Respondents Who Say They Would Utilize Selected Problem Solving Approaches At Least Once in Response to Selected Community Problems: SOCC/IPNA Group versus Comparison Group

    Table 11: Comparison of Individuals Active with IPNA/SOCC and Those with no IPNA/SOCC Involvement Related to Organizational Activities in Last 6 Months


This report contains the analysis of an evaluation conducted by Dr. Susan Grossman and Dr. Edward Gumz of a model of community organization utilized on the northwest side of Chicago by the Save Our City Coalition (SOCC). SOCC has been utilizing a majority-based model of community organization for many years and was interested in evaluating the effectiveness of that model.

Kimberly VanWagner and Kristen Poohl from SOCC, along with the Executive Director, Clayton Daughenbaugh, initiated the study and approached Drs. Grossman and Gumz to enlist their support. Ms. VanWagner and Ms. Poohl were also involved in developing the design for the evaluation, the survey and sampling plan, in conjunction with Drs. Grossman and Gumz. In addition, asssistance was graciously provided by students at the School of Social Work in support of this study. Those who helped with interviews and/or research on the community included: Meyer Diaz, Katie Hillman, Sarah Lyons, Abby Moffett, Michael Schuster and Jessica Spissinger. Kimberly VanWagner from SOCC also helped with interviewing. The Center for Urban Learning and Research at Loyola provided financial support.

Unfortunately, shortly after the study got underway, SOCC decided to cease operations. Planned focus groups with persons active in organizing efforts did not take place and community residents and SOCC staff members who we were hoping would participate as interviewers in a community survey were not available. Our original plan had been to interview residents in two neighborhoods, one of which had been the focus of intense organizing efforts by SOCC and the other of which had not. In the end, we only interviewed people in the community where organizing took place, and for a number of reasons including weather, limited interviewers and lack of knowledge about the study in the community, we were only able to obtain 24 interviews over a two-and-a-half month period.

A summary of the findings from this survey indicate that there was some difference between the small group of individuals in the sample who were involved in some way with SOCC or the organization in the community that SOCC helped to initiate, the Irving Park Neighbors Association (IPNA, and those who had no such involvement. Those who were involved in some way with SOCC and/or IPNA were more likely to feel that they had greater control over policy issues in their communities. They were involved with more organizations and took part in greater numbers of organizational activities. Differences between the groups in these areas were statistically significant. Other differences between the groups that were larger but not statistically significant suggest those in the IPNA/SOCC group had greater feelings of leadership capacity and were more likely to feel a sense of personal mastery compared to those in the comparison group.

The results also revealed that those involved in some way with SOCC or IPNA were more likely to respond in theory and in reality to community problems and less likely to do nothing. Trends in the results suggest that they were more likely to consider approaches that involved talking with neighbors and mobilizing them to talk to someone in authority or to sign a petition, compared to those who were not involved with SOCC or IPNA. However, they were no less likely to consider problem-solving strategies that entailed relying on persons in power such as police or aldermen, in contrast to the philosophy of community action to which SOCC adheres.

Because this was a one-time cross sectional study, and the sample was so small, it is difficult to conclude that any of these outcomes were the result of participation in SOCC or IPNA. It is possible that individuals were drawn to IPNA or SOCC because of the characteristics noted or a tendency to use certain approaches to address community problems. A larger study, which could identify some of the causal directions in the relationships noted and include individuals from the comparison community would help to more clearly indicate SOCC's impact. Given these preliminary results, such a study seems warranted especially in light of the possible influence of this organizing strategy on the individuals who are involved.

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